Mother’s Day Cast-on, a Kestrel Program, & an Ella Mae Knits Update!

I should just call this post “Stuff,” but that seems to sum up all my posts lately…I apologize for being so scattered!  I cast-on a new knitting project for me yesterday as part of the Mother’s Day Cast-on movement (not sure that’s the right word for it, but, in any case, I got the idea from My Tangled Yarn Knitting Adventures & I love it!).  I chose the Waterrock vest & used some yummy Madelintosh I purchased last summer in the colorway Still.  Hopinghopinghoping I actually finish this…I’ve never knit myself anything other than fingerless mitts!  What is wrong with me, you ask?  Sooooooooo much, ha!  Thank you goes to Martha for the pattern inspiration–your version is beautiful!  I loved all your Instagram posts for it.  I also finished knitting a version of my June Belle beanie pattern for a dear, dear mama friend of mine who had a baby boy in March of this year.  Hoping the cap will fit him this next winter.

Coralee painted me two panels of a prairie scene to dress-up our 3-season porch using old shake siding panels (we have hundreds of these panels sitting under a tarp–if you’re interested in her painting you a set of something, just let me know, she’s unemployed & would love some side-work!).  I can’t wait to hang these.  Love my girl.

Harmon is sick.  Again.  Always.  Bleh.  I don’t know what else to say about that–I spent Mother’s Day caring for him off & on, in-between gardening bouts outside.  Brian, Coralee & June worked their backsides off yesterday on the property–I really REALLY appreciate all the work you all did yesterday, thank you!!!!  They painted a fence (to keep our naughty chickens out of the flower beds) white, mowed all over the place, tilled, planted, weeded…there is so much work when you live on a parcel of land…

Coralee spent Saturday morning teaching at our local nature center.  It was International Migratory Bird Day.  She’s working to educate the community about the decline of the American Kestrel as part of her Young Birder of the Year competition for the American Birding Association.  I never posted her results from last year’s competition–she placed FIRST in the Field Notebook Module & THIRD in the Writing Module!  She’s working to place higher this year overall.  This contest is wonderful, I highly recommend it!

She created from scratch all the materials.  The craft project was so much fun!  I was extremely impressed with the crazy amount of information my daughter knows about kestrels.  I had no idea!  The naturalist was impressed, too, & is hoping she will help out this fall with their huge field day for 5th graders & teach this activity again.

Yes, I made her siblings attend.  She needed more participants.

This was the culmination of the class.  We hope to donate the pdf for this activity to the American Kestrel Partnership for the Education materials section.  If you’re interested in using this activity yourself, just let me know in the comments & I’ll be sure to let you know when the link for it goes live!

And finally, Ella Mae Knits.  I began using my EMK Instagram account again around Earth Day.  Please follow me there if you, too, use IG!  I was inspired by the movie Moana (yes, an animated movie–it’s brilliant!!!) to change the way I operate EMK.  Going forward, I am going to donate every other item I knit to someone in need.  There’s a post about this change in my IG feed (which is public, so even if you’re not using Instagram you can still check it out).  I hope to get this going at summer’s end–once my daycare job ends & I find more time to sit & knit…I will carve the time out somewhere, hopefully.

Happy Belated Mother’s Day to all who celebrate & especially to our shared mother, Mother Earth! xo

April Awakening?

It’s been dull as tombs around here for most of March, I apologize!  Harmon was SICK.  I was SICK.  I missed posting about Harmon’s favorite things at 15 months as a result.  My goal is to post about Month 16 this week.  Fingers crossed the sickness train has departed for good now.  I’m still waiting on a call from my P.A. as to whether or not I truly broke/fractured a rib due to my incessant coughing over the course of three+ weeks.  I cannot believe I may have broke a rib as a result of coughing…the pain is so horrid, however, I absolutely believe it!  

Yesterday we visited the nearby Dudegon Wildlife Management Area to bird and hike.  Collectively we saw 19 species of birds including three Golden-crowned Kinglets, many Green-winged Teal, two Eastern Meadowlarks singing their hearts out, & a Yellow-rumped Warbler (photo below).  Iowa has been stuck in a literal cloud bank for over a week now…if we don’t get some sun soon I’m afraid the seedlings Coralee started for our garden this summer will get too leggy and die.  Pray for sun!  We all need an April Awakening!





Harmon’s cap is about the only knitting I’ve completed in weeks–another Garter Ear Flap Cap using Quince & Co’s newest le Blue Heathers collection.  I hope you’ll stay in touch with the blog this month despite my almost complete absence last month…lots to announce & some big changes in the Bodeker household taking place this summer!  Happy April!

Harmon, You’re One!

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Happy Birthday, Harmon Hunter!

What an incredible thing to be, one-year-old!

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You are still a very tiny human, Harmon, at 16lbs 11oz, which puts you in the 1st percentile on the WHO child growth charts.  You are 28.75inches long (12th percentile) and your head is in the 76th percentile.  Your growth keeps trucking right along at the dead bottom of the graph, but your pediatrician keeps reminding me at least you’re maintaining a curve.

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Your labor was slow as molasses despite my water breaking on your original (LMP) due date (November 30) at 6pm…over twelve hours later and contractions had fizzled to basically nothing, like 11-20 minutes apart and the intensity was dropping.  Time for Pitocin, which I had fought like crazy against (probably part of the reason the labor wasn’t progressing better), but a few hours later and you were here!  Makes me cry recalling that special day, December 1st.  A rainy, icy, cold day here in Iowa made brighter with your welcome to it.

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You continue to take your time with most things in life–you still do not walk at one-year-old, you only recently started cruising cautiously along the furniture, and you remain toothless!  At 11-months-old you, at long last, learned to roll from back to front.  Crawling was slow to come as well (you sat up well around six months and got really REALLY good at reaching for things and pivoting around in a circle on your bum), but now you are a crawling machine!  Your crawl is anything but traditional–you swing your left leg out and keep the right tucked underneath.  You were born serious, my Harmonious, and you remain fairly serious.  When you smile & laugh everyone does the same around here!

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You say a few words/sounds: mama, dada, & baa!.  You babble & love love love music!  You also like to use your finger to touch things.  One of your favorite pastimes when we visit the library (every Monday during older sister Coralee’s Spanish class) is for me to carry you around the children’s room so you can touch every single book that is on display with your one finger.  You also loved batting at the fall leaves hanging from the ceiling & now that those leaves are gone, you keep looking up in a very confused manner.

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Coralee & I took these photos in the loft on a very dreary day & need to do so again in order to correct the blurry factor, but time is fleeting & these may just have to do.  I hope you don’t mind!

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You take two naps a day now (both on the floor since you learned to fall off the bed–oops!).  Sometimes you squeeze in three & sometimes we only get one & those days are not fun.  You sleep roughly one hour at a time after nursing/rocking to sleep.  Around 6/7pm in the evening you are spent & NEED to go to bed.  We don’t really have much of a bedtime routine in place yet…mostly because you are like putting a feisty, non-sleepy cat to bed & have been that way since birth.  You require a lot of maintenance in the sleep department.  We co-sleep and you go maybe two hours at a time at night without waking up.  Every night is different, too, what works one night won’t work the next to get you back to sleep.

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And, like all babies, after fitful nights, you are ready to sleep late…but older siblings need to be on the bus by 6:50AM so that doesn’t happen often, my tiny friend.

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Harmonious!  Yes, your daddy has given you that nickname.  And guess what?  It fits so well!  You love to play your harmonica & when you first figured out how to make noise with it you were stunned, thrilled, and so very proud of yourself!  We also call you Har-MOAN when you’re crying or fussing, Harmon Hunter when you’re “baby naughty”, & sometimes Harmonica or Harmione.

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You look like Papa Hammond, my father!

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Your big bro is getting better with you–more tolerant & less fearful of you “freaking out.”

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June.  Oh, June.  She is your greatest playmate & greatest tormentor!  Ha!  She sure does like to carry you around & it doesn’t always work out so well these days…

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This was your birthday gift.  It is a PLAN toys bus walker & it rocks!  I recommend this gift for a one-year old, especially one that doesn’t walk yet, highly.  I plan (ha! like any of my plans work out, but we’ll see) to do a “Harmon’s Favorite Things” post once a month now for the next year & hope to talk more about this walker at that time.

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You read!  No, I kid, but you seemed to be doing so with your daddy’s godmother’s birthday card.

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The older kids think it is hilarious to just push you around in your walker & now you’re spoiled & would rather do this than walk.  You love to hug this puppy toy.  It is very sweet when I catch you hugging it.

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Your tongue seems to be out of your mouth a lot lately…like you’re concentrating, but I think you’re using it to touch the one lousy tooth that’s trying to pop on the bottom gumline.

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We had an angel food cake for your birthday (it was sooooooooo good, thank you, Nana Hammond!) because you remain intolerant of dairy.  VERY intolerant.  I am still not eating dairy & I weigh a lot less than I used to..

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Happy Birthday, my special boy!!!  You were unexpected & I cannot say the last year has been easy, but I LOVELOVELOVELOVELOVE you so very much, never forget that, Harmon Hunter.  You are here for a reason & we are so very thankful you are indeed.

Love, Mamamamamamamamama

Field of Broken Dreams

All winter long and well into the spring of this year, we’ve been lucky enough to observe a large group of turkeys around our property–two adult females & their offspring, roughly eleven birds in total. They’ve been in our front yard, in the alfalfa field to our north, gobbling in the woods to our south & east, out on the driveway & down on the main road. Such a treat! We even witnessed an impressive courtship display play out just beyond our front windows on the lawn by three tom turkeys for an audience of extremely uninterested hens.

This past Wednesday, after walking with the girls & Harmon to pick up Merritt from the bus, we all headed back into the recently-cut alfalfa field for a hike. We saw a crazy amount of birds including Barn Swallows, Dickcissels, Red-winged Blackbirds, Crows, Kildeer, Vultures, even a Cooper’s Hawk overhead. As the kids were taking off across the field after a Kildeer, they stumbled upon a turkey nest decimated by both the tractor that had cut the alfalfa & area scavengers who took care of most of the hen’s body (all that was left were her feet) & probably the contents of the broken eggs. So many feelings bubbled up, ranging from thankfulness for the farmer who leases the land that he chose to plant alfalfa & not the typical corn (which provides ZERO habitat for much of anything in the Midwest) to pure anger that this hen was only trying to raise her brood in what appeared to be a hospitable habitat among the acres & acres & ACRES of corn around here, only to have her efforts (& her life) pulverized in an instant.
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IMG_4462[1]Merritt made a spear with thorns from a tree.
IMG_4547[1]Stumbling upon the nest site.IMG_4541[1]

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IMG_4540[1]Coralee counted at least seven eggs in various fractured stages.

IMG_4543[1]So many beautiful feathers doth a seemingly plain turkey harbor.
IMG_4542[1]June was quite sad about the whole situation as she has loved spotting the turkeys from our windows.IMG_4545[1]We left the feathers, by the way; it is illegal under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to collect feathers.  On Friday the farmer baled the alfalfa–the feathers, feet, & nest contents were bound up into future cattle feed.  Makes me wonder what else ends up in those bales…

IMG_4538[1]We are in Iowa so I think it’s fitting to title this photo Field of Dreams.IMG_4546[1]Harmon snoozed through the entire hike.IMG_4548[1]It was a great hike, broken dreams & all.

Never a dull moment…{warning: dead bird photos ahead}

I never got around to posting a Yarn Along post yesterday, sadly 😦  I blame the fact that I’ve really knit nothing worth posting about (five garter stitch ridges, woo hoo!), but also because it is always just plain old nuts around the Bodeker homestead & only seems to be getting more so with each passing day.  Seriously, never a dull moment.  Can you relate?  I’ve included some snapshots of my immediate surroundings…

Hambone broth bubbling in the kitchen all morning.

Hambone broth bubbling in the kitchen all morning.  Because I need to grocery shop!  This was an Easter ham…

Knitting waiting to be knit...now smells like hambone broth!

Knitting waiting to be knit, I’m sure this knitting wants to break up with me & find a better knitting owner…and now it smells like hambone broth!

Fossil soaking on my counter; chicken scrap bucket needs emptying yesterday.

Random fossil soaking on my counter (kids!); chicken scrap bucket needed emptying yesterday.

Dishwasher's been broke for almost a year...dishes never seem to be done...it's like I own a bottomless sink...no, wait, I figured it out, I have four kids.

Dishwasher’s been broke for almost a year…dishes never seem to be done…it’s like I own a bottomless sink…no, wait, I figured it out, I have four kids.

My kitchen counter. Piles and more piles. I need to do something about this. I also spy iced coffee I probably finished 12 hours after making it & Hydrogen Peroxide for the cat's leg wound...maybe I should use it to cover some of these grey hairs sprouting all over my head.

My kitchen counter. Piles and more piles. I need to do something about this. I also spy the remnants of iced coffee I probably finished 12 hours after making it & Hydrogen peroxide for the cat’s leg wound…maybe I should use it to cover some of these grey hairs sprouting all over my head.

Diaper laundry. The laundry is never done. How do people with more than four kids ever have clean clothes???? I feel like we are just barely making it on the clean clothes front.

Diaper laundry. The laundry is never done. How do people with more than four kids ever have clean clothes???? I feel like we are just barely making it on the clean clothes front.

Now I’ll explain the dead bird.  I have a knack for spotting dead stuff on the road…no kidding!  For example, I found a dead coyote a few months ago near our home on a random backroad (I was driving around aimlessly during naptime) & so so SO wanted Brian to pick it up for me (it was a coyote!).  I love coyotes, I don’t care that they eat our chickens, which they do…we’ve obliterated/exterminated/pushed-out practically every other large predator in the Midwest, coyotes remain despite our needless war & “best” efforts…more power to these amazing creatures!  Anyway, Brian said no.  I also found a smashed (sad!) White-breasted Nuthatch three days ago…I tried to get Coralee to bring it back to our house, she refused…it was really bloody, I agree.

So, yesterday, I spotted an American Coot on our road, dead.  WEIRD!  We are at least a mile and a half from the nearest water source for waterfowl.  There is a continuing flock of American Coots in said nearest water source, but why this coot wound up dead on our road is anyone’s guess.  It has no obvious injuries, no blood, nothing.  We took it to our local County Conservation office yesterday afternoon for them to taxidermy.  Their Nature Center doesn’t have an American Coot yet in the displays so they were quite thrilled to receive our find.  I hate seeing wildlife dead on the road, makes me sad, but it’s also a reliable source of food for vultures & other carrion-eating animals/birds.  We filthy the Earth, they clean it up, unpaid, unappreciated, often run over themselves.  Thank you, wildlife!  American Coots are magnificent–really!  I never realized this until seeing one up close.  I honestly thought they were ugly & not worth my birding time…I feel poorly writing that now.  Photos below prove my newly-found respect for the American Coot & I hope you agree. 🙂

American Coot, deceased.

American Coot in a shoe box, deceased.

You are absolutely looking at a future wildlife biologist in this photo...possibly a professional ornithologist...she's so cool! I can't believe she's my kid, how did I get so lucky????

You are absolutely looking at a future wildlife biologist in this photo…possibly a professional ornithologist…she’s so cool! I can’t believe she’s my kid, how did I get so lucky????  I am not this cool.

American Coot; these feet are insane! It's like a dinosaur!

American Coot; these feet are insane! It’s like a dinosaur!

American Coot; I never realized how beautiful these tiny, scrappy waterfowl were until now.

American Coot; I never realized how beautiful these tiny-noggin-ed, scrappy waterfowl were until now.

I’m telling ya, never a dull moment.  In a good way!

Prairie Fire!

We drove north to Crumbacher Wildlife Area in Buchanan County last night to attend a controlled prairie burn.  The burn was ignited at dusk, just after 7PM, & took almost two hours to burn.  Prior to the burn, air temperature was around 41’F, relative humidity was 61.2%, and the highest recorded wind gust came in at 6mph.  Ranger Mike Van Raden told the assembled group (which included our family, a local reporter, Buchanan County Naturalist Sondra Cabell, Executive Director Dan Cohen, 2 park techs & 1 other ranger) the weather conditions were on the parameters of what he’d like for a burn, but doable.  Why so few people attended this AMAZING event, I have no clue…Iowa is not boring, people!  You just have to seek out the opportunities!  Anyway, off my soapbox.IMG_3378[1]Burn began in the back (south edge) of this reconstructed prairie which is to the east of the wetland pond.

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie; wetland pond at dusk


ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie; fire started slower than expected


ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie; Coralee & Merritt’s view from down in the prairie about to be burned

IMG_3396[1]June was not impressed.  Harmon was not, either, & kept moaning/fussing in the carrier.  June collected a bunch of sticks & old seed pods which are still in the back of the Suburban.  Shortly after I took this photo & the next one, June, Harmon, & I hiked back to the Suburban.  June said the fire looked like lava & that she “knows what lava looks like because I watch Wild Kratts.”  She yelled at me that lava is scary; however, she clearly was not scared.  I think she was just plain old COLD.  IMG_3397[1]I accidentally had my HDR on when I took these photos–makes it more dramatic, I guess.  If you are on a laptop or PC, click on this photo–it’s way better viewed in a larger size.IMG_3398[1]Hangin’ in the ‘burb.  Wishin’ I was at the burn!  Thankfully, I could still see it from where we parked, but it wasn’t the same as being “right there” like Brian & the older kids experienced.  #fifthtrimester #preschooler

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie; fire getting going now!


ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie; using a drip torch

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie; using a drip torch


ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie, Merritt Bodeker & Ranger Mike Van Raden

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie; Merritt Bodeker & Ranger Mike Van Raden, hanging out, just feeling’ the BURN


ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie fire

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie fire


ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie fire

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie fire; kids were able to be right up next to the fire line–so cool!


ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie fire

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie fire


ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie; Sondra Cabell (Naturalist) & local newspaper reporter

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie; local reporter & Sondra Cabell (sidenote–Merritt keeps telling us he’s going to be “famous” because the reporter took his photo, ha!)


ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie


ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie: Sondra Cabell & Dan Cohen (Exec. Dir.)

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie; Sondra Cabell & Dan Cohen

IMG_3391[1]A natural masterpiece.  High five, Nature!

Cars out on the road were slowing down & parking once the fire really took off & darkness descended.  It was like lining up for Christmas lights, only a million times better.  #takebacktheprairies